Bright Nights kicks off the holiday season with annual tree lighting

A line of cars had already been building outside the park entrance on Sumner Avenue, but those already inside were enjoying the holiday cheer.
Published: Nov. 23, 2022 at 6:53 PM EST|Updated: Nov. 23, 2022 at 10:36 PM EST
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SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WGGB/WSHM) - Bright Nights, a signature here in western Massachusetts, kicked off its 28th season Wednesday evening with its traditional lighting ceremony.

This year’s event features new displays, including one in front of the gift shop in Santa’s Magical Forest.

“I think it’s a wonderful tradition, and I also love the lights,” said Madigan Long of Springfield.

“We saw Santa,” added Nora Mesler. “He gave me a cookie”

Families can now make their way to Forest Park to enjoy the 28-year-long tradition, one that has now become intergenerational.

“Memories begin here,” said Springfield Mayor Domenic Sarno. “You now have kids who came in here and are now adults bringing their kids.”

He told us that the event is one that is near to his heart.

“The Christmas lights remind me of my grandfather, my baba, when I was a little boy,” he said. “An Italian-American tradition was putting up lights outside on the porch or the house, and he taught me how to do that, so every time I come through here, I think of my grandfather.”

Like the mayor, Bright Nights has become a staple for many other families as well.

“Every year, yep, it’s a pre-Thanksgiving tradition,” Michelle Mesler said. “Starts the holiday season off right!”

“Looking forward to being able to spend time with family now that COVID is over, making sure everybody’s together, and definitely doing traditions like this, coming to Bright Nights,” Lindsay Hackett of Springfield told us.

President of the Spirit of Springfield Judy Matt told Western Mass News that they have some new displays this year, and even replaced all the lights in the blizzard tunnel.

“In this particular area where the carousel is, every year we’re going to add to it, so we added the façade on the gift shop and we started a little candy area, and then we’re going to add different buildings in this area, so it’ll be all full with the lighting displays,” Matt told us.

She said that they are expecting nearly 40,000 cars to come through the park this season, and they are proud that they are able to put on an event that families can look forward to every year.

“It’s very worthwhile,” Matt said. “It’s really rewarding that we get to do this because I think it’s a very joyful time.”

The Bright Nights Road Race will take place on Monday night, and Bright Nights runs now through January 1st.

You can find a full calendar of events and information about ticketing here.